It’s not unusual for me to talk with healthcare leaders who openly share their troubling patient satisfaction scores. The leaders may not be proud of the scores, but they will openly discuss them. That’s the easy part because the evidence is right there. It’s when we start talking about the leadership role in the patient experience that things get a little hairy. No one wants to admit to turning a blind eye to problems. I’ve yet to meet a leadership team who will admit that its strategy has been to ignore poor patient satisfaction, hoping it will just go away. Yet that is really what happens—month after month and quarter after quarter, the evidence piles up against patient happiness, that the experience is inconsistent at best and that nothing is changing.
I’ve had so many similar conversations with healthcare leaders who, when honest with themselves and me, will come to the conclusion that the root of their problems in customer service stems from a fear of commitment. That’s right—a fear of commitment. Most of us think of fear of commitment in terms of romantic relationships, but commitment issues rear their ugly heads in countless situations every day—to lose weight, exercise consistently, and to hold others accountable for results.
It’s one thing to craft a beautiful values statement and standards for service, but a it’s a whole different animal when it comes to holding every person accountable for living out those values and standards with every customer at every encounter. The principle is easy. The execution is hard. It takes disciple and commitment to be the provider of choice and the employer of choice. It takes a team of leadership members who not only share a vision for excellence, but who won’t veer off course when things get tough. It really comes down to the difference between a wish and a goal. You can wish for a better patient experience, or commit to one. I’ve seen marvelous transformations take place when senior leadership teams cross the chasm from wishing for a service-centered culture to committing to making it happen with nothing standing in their way.
Start the conversation today. Are you wishing or truly committed?